Tai Chi Thoughts
This is a random collection of thoughts about the practice of Tai Chi. They all might not mean something to you at this moment, but they are important to contemplate. This list is included in the Tai Chi Manual posted at my site.
1. Back is always straight without being stiff.
2. The top of the head is held as if suspended from above.
3. The knee always points in the direction that the toe is pointed.
4. The knee just covers the toe unless you aren’t strong enough or want to go further for competition or demonstration.
5. Nose points to one knee or the other or in the middle. The nose never goes outside the knee. That leads to imbalance.
6. Always step as far as you can without moving the body until the root is established with the stepping foot.
7. When stepping forward the heel always touches down first.
8. Never use tension – only attention.
9. Tuck the buttocks under to help keep the spine straight.
10. Eyes glance forward at a 45 degree angle downward. It relaxes the eyes as well as trains the eyes to focus on opponent’s center.
11. Eyes follow the hands glancing about one foot beyond.
12. Speed of practice is constant no matter how slow or fast. Practice at different speeds.
13. Keep the top of the head lifting up. It stabilizes the body and keeps it in balance.
14. Energy follows the mind.
15. Energy is released like a spring. First you compress or create tension, then release.
16. Make sure that the energy has a clear, open channel between the source and the exit.
17. Make sure the legs do the work. The legs generate the energy and the hands express it.
18. Any tension restricts the flow of energy, like bending a hose. You’ll end up with only a trickle.
19. Pay special attention to the joints. This is where the energy transfers from one part of the body to the next. It is easy to cut off or restrict energy at these junctures. Practice Silk Reeling to open the joints.
20. If you want to push, you must pull first and vice versa. If you want to go up, first you must pull down.
21. Don’t open the joints more than straight or 180 degrees. The joint loses its strength past this point.
22. Don’t let the elbows get behind the body. The arm is very easily controlled if this happens.
23. Let the wrist assume the posture of Beautiful Maiden, open and soft. The energy will then easily flow out the Lao Kung or Chi exit point in the center of the palm.
24. Tai Chi is natural. It is fast movement done slowly, not just slow movements.
25. Pantomime real movements. Without understanding what the movement really is in a martial sense, you’ll never be able to do Tai Chi Chuan.
26. Do not break the energy by changing speeds. It is like a river running downhill toward the sea — always moving.
27. Mind leads the movement. Be clear what you want the body to do, then practice until the mind and body move as one.
28. There is no time lag between the mind movement and the body movement. They move as one.
29. Pay attention to open and close. The object is for you to stay open while closing up the opponent.
30. Look for Ready position in all of the movements. That is the moment when you are ready for anything to happen. Don’t just do movements, one after the other.
31. Make sure to press the weight of the body onto the Bubbling Well Point on the bottom of the foot.
32. It’s all one movement from beginning to end. Eliminate the breaks.
33. The feet move like a cats. Deliberate, sure, soft, and quiet.
34. Tai Chi stepping is like walking on a newly frozen lake. Test the ground when you place the foot before committing all your weight. You want to be able to withdraw at anytime without jerking your body back. The same with stepping backwards.
35. The body of the Tai Chi practitioner is like a horse and rider. The legs are the horse, the upper body the rider. It is important to separate the rider so he can turn around and do actions while the horse does something else, yet they are one unit.
36. Drill an oil well with your coccyx. This means to keep the buttocks tucked under and the spine erect. That way you can bob up and down without interfering with your alignment.
37. Never lock your joints.
38. Keep in mind that you would most likely want to step behind or to the side of your opponent, so when practicing your form, step accordingly.
39. When stepping, make sure not to break your root from where you were until you establish your root where you are going.
40. If you have any thoughts in your head at all they will keep you from being in the moment and seeing clearly.
41. Energy in the body is like a ball. If you push it down, it will bounce up. The harder you push down, the further up it will bounce. If you want to push or strike an opponent, first sink your weight into your feet and legs.
42. You always want to keep in touch with your opponent. That is why in Tai Chi when we move backward we leave our hands forward until the moment of change happens. Examples are the transition from Push to Single Whip or in Repulse Monkey.
43. The eyes follow the hands. You need to train the eyes to do this so they can be involved in the movement. The eyes are major receptors and creators of energy.
44. When moving weight, make sure to open all the joints between the center and the part of the body connected to the weight. If your joint is not all the way open, it will be the joint that will end up dealing with the weight and the joint is the weakest link in the movement of force or weight. That is why we straighten out the arms in all the movements. Also, make sure not to lock the arms straight. Any locking blocks the flow of energy.
45. Even in movement the mind remains calm and still, like a still lake, in order to reflect reality clearly.
46. It is important to realize that the Tai Chi Chuan form is all one movement made up of various parts. We break it down in order to look at it in more detail but it is still one continuous movement. It is like talking about the body — we can look at the hand, arm, foot etc., yet it is all part of one whole.
47. Open the Yung Chuan point on the bottom of the foot in order to allow yin energy to enter and spent Chi to leave.
48. There is no good or bad chi. There is only chi. Some chi we can use and we might call it good while other chi we can’t use and might call bad. We must get away from good and bad discrimination of things.
49. Learn to do the most with the least. That is one of the major benefits of Tai Chi.
50. Walk like a tiger — place each step exactly where you want it to go with total control. When the tiger is stalking he is crouched very low to the ground so as to compress his chi for the spring.
51. Before starting your practice be sure to take a moment to hook up your basic energy points to your Dan Tien. To do this you concentrate your mind first on your Dan Tien then on the Yung Chuan points on the bottoms of the feet, the Bai Hui on the top of the head, and the Lao Kung in the center of the palms. Just by concentrating on these points you will send the energy to them.
52. Think of your body and energy like a bow and arrow. One end of the bow is your Bai Hui on the top of the head; the other end of the bow is the Hui Yin point at the bottom of the pelvis. The length of the bow is the spine. The bow string is pulled back by inhaling. The arrow of energy is discharged from the Dan Tien by exhaling.
53. The eight cranial bones of the skull are capable of minute movements. This movement is important to pump the cerebrospinal fluid which surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. We can increase the movements of the joints of the cranium and increase the function of the pumping action of the cranial pump . Use your mind to do this.